Issue 3: Steven Waling


A bottle in the cupboard. Monday:

dream of Tom Conti in The Dresser.

I’m at the bus-stop waiting. Who

played The Actor. No idea why

gets out of bed light through curtains

weak as cheap teabags. Raining.


Gloop purples the bottom of a glass.

Put Breakfast on. The bus leaving

is late. I sit with my glass, red jam

butties, Dad’s Army, Two Ronnies.

They’re talking to Jason Donovan, his

part in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.


“It’s not funny, it’s stupid”, said of Python.

An abstract thought throws a sandwich

on the road. It supposes it must work.

Love Thy Neighbour, On The Buses,

how the parents lap them up. Makes

coffee in the cafetiere because.


On the bus a weight slides off my back.

Stayed up for The Old Grey Whistle Test,

or because Monday needs a good

kick to wake up. Old homestead slides

back to the back of my head.

It was Freddy Jones played The Actor,


first play I saw. Vimto chops:

she bought Ribena by mistake.

It reads three pages of a novel

it’s not getting into. Empty heads

of the Age of Full Employment, Suddenly

unsure if it was Tom Courteney after all.


                                      her varying subject matter

what's a little rain

                                     creamy Victorian market hall

of its shoe leather

                                     hide your thoughts close

you preferred your own company

                                                                         Miners Arms Sacred Heart

even good typists make errors

                                                                  no worse there is none

in that demolished space

                                                      not eating enough losing the thread

appeal for the Pals' memorial

                                                                between dark and light

candour you'd rather we forgot

                                                                   the bus stammers out

the kind of rain that soaks

                                         as a short-sighted private

but you never visit

                                        and don't come back

clouds drop low on the hills

                                                           who died on the wires and

you should have been there

                                                            hung there one of two

two more holes in the road

                                                           the scrubbed and washed estate

become a thin place

                                             wives locked in marriage

forgets where it put itself

                                                         the harmonics of the poetic

the memorial to the fallen

                                                           quiet and simple

the kind of rain that soaks 

                                                              because you never stay

return please to Manchester

                                                             by the hole in the middle

rain sluicing down

                                           avant-garde despite itself

last night's fireworks tater pie

                                                                 youth's whiny voice

the old man's complaint

                                                       blank space and brick dust

weren't you the mardy get

                                                             and a long list of names

a unique waterside view

                                                       this kind of intense

chance encounters at work

                                                             the local rag

the kind of rain that soaks


(Sample: Paul Davies, The Last Three Minutes)

After Easter   the Cross is put away

A man zig-zags up the path   finds the

triangulation point   We can breathe easily

the view becomes clear   he sees   All 

this space means cosmic collisions are rare

the old mills cancelled   lovely into history

the galaxy is not static   Easterlies stream

over the top   Was a time he’d run steep down 

to park gates and the street   where we

are now   exhilarating   new trees grow

Heather he doesn’t recall purples on top

the expansion of the universe   He picks it 

walks past the shelter’s still broken seats

graffiti   As the comets plunge through

the inner solar system   passes the flooded

quarry    but violent death is less of a threat 

on by   then slow decay   down to the road

etching its acid through the hills   Something

tiny   rat or vole   crosses his path and he

turns back to his life   Our own fate entangled 

streets   abstract   like the veins of a

Steven Waling is the author of Travelator (Salt 2007) and publishes poetry in many magazine and online. He lives in Manchester, and was recently writer-in-residence at HMP Whatton.

Copyright © 2009 by Steven Waling, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.